#025– Comparing Yourself to Others and Coming Up Short
It’s human nature to look around at other people and compare ourselves to them to see how we measure up. It’s also human nature for us to see how we fall short when we get stuck in comparison. The “compare and despair” mindset is real! Even though it’s natural for us to compare, it doesn’t help us to find love and acceptance for our own life’s circumstances and it can hurt the relationships we have in our own families.
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You’re listening to parenting through the detour. Episode 25, comparing yourself to others and coming up short
Howard W Hunter said, Your detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow way back to him. And we know that men and women are that they might have joy. But when you get taken on a parenting detour, it feels like joy is something that other people get to feel. But not you. It doesn’t have to be this way. Join me on this podcast. And let’s find some joy through your detours. It’ll give you some help along the way. I’m your host, Tina Gosney. And I’m a life and relationship coach, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Welcome back to the podcast. And if this is your first time, then just welcome to parenting through the detour. How are you doing on this week after Thanksgiving?
Are you ready for the Christmas season feels like we just had Christmas just a few months ago, but I guess it has been about 11 months since we’ve had it. And I hope you had a great Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday of the year. Because it’s just about getting together with family having some food. And I don’t love Thanksgiving food but we always find something that we really like and Thanksgiving a chant kind of change up the menu a little bit. And it’s about getting together with family and expressing gratitude. So I’m so I just love Thanksgiving. And I’m always kind of sad to see it go. Although I do love the Christmas season, I’ve kind of altered the way I celebrate the Christmas season, and the things that I’m willing to do. And as far as being busy and, and the commitments that I make to myself, I really want to get to Christmas day and feel like I have taken the time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, I don’t want to feel so glad that it’s over that all the busyness of the Christmas season is over, so that I can get back to normal life again, I used to live my life that way. And I just don’t anymore. And so I’m really intentional about the things that I choose to do in December, and the things that I want to focus my life on. But last week’s podcast was all about gratitude and how important it is in our lives and how cultivating this quality of gratitude is just able to bring so much joy into our lives. In fact, it’s one of the pillars of joy. It’s so important that it’s actually a pillar. So go listen to last week’s podcast if you haven’t already, because gratitude, especially in times of difficulty is such an important quality to cultivate in our lives. And this week’s episode is about comparing ourselves to others. And it might not seem like I’m talking most of this episode about comparing ourselves to others. But it all feeds into this same act of comparing ourselves to other people. I recently heard this story by Richard Eyre who he is he and his wife, Linda are considered one of the country’s leading experts on parenting and their art. They’ve written so many books, they are consultants. They have they’ve done so much in their lives and have so much great advice and, and things to follow for parents. I really love their work. And he told a story. I heard him on another podcast and he told a story about how he and his wife were just went on a little road trip. And they were driving through Idaho.
And they stopped that was Sunday and they stopped in a small town in a small farming town in Idaho. There’s a lot of them. And they stopped in a small town and decided to go to church. Well, they attended a Sunday school class where they said the woman teaching was just a very kind, soft spoken humble woman. And the lesson happened to be on parenting, which they thought oh, this is going to be so interesting. We’re just gonna hang back and observe and see what happens in this lesson. They noticed there was another visitor there and they knew that he was a visitor because he was dressed in an eye slick suit, he had on some shiny shoes. And he’s really stood out because he was surrounded by farmers who were dressed very differently than him. They were dressed very humbly. And as the lesson progressed, and as this woman was teaching the lesson, this other visitor had all the right answers. And if you could see me right now, I’m putting right in quotation marks, because I’m sure he thought that his answers were right. And he was saying, See, saying things like, this is how you should do it, because this is how we did it. And my daughter is a valedictorian, and my son is the student body president. And he had many comments through this lesson. And the IRS say, it got to be kind of ridiculous the way he was speaking. And towards the end of this lesson, one of these humble farmers raised his hand, and he stood up, and he walked right up to this visitor, squared his shoulders, and he said, God must not have thought much of you as a parent to send you all of them easy kids. And then Richard said, he and his wife looked at each other and said, “Amen.”
So he and his wife speak to parents, all over the world. And he says that LDS parents are the most guilt ridden, that they see anywhere. And he says, that’s because our expectations are so much higher. Because we think that we’re supposed to have a perfect family. We think if we do these things, if we have these inputs, if we, you know, check these boxes, then we should get this back. And that for us, that means we should have a perfect family. And when we don’t get that we blame ourselves for it. And we say things like, because this is happening with my child, I must have been a bad mother. Or if only I had paid more attention, back then I should have seen this coming. This is all my fault. We say things like that all the time. And we get so anxious about it, that we forget that these children already are who they are, before they ever come to us. We forget that, that they are God’s children, that they came with so many of these traits with these, with these things that they needed to work out in their lives. They came to us like that. We tend to take all of that on us and think that it’s our fault, and we get so guilt ridden from it. One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 55:8 where he says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are my ways, your ways saith the Lord,” for someone like me, who works with people all the time about the way that they’re thinking about the lenses they’re looking at their life through, and how that’s getting them the results they have in their lives. I think this scripture is fascinating. It is so interesting to me to really ponder, think about like, how our thoughts lead us to where we are, and the way that we experience our life, and how God doesn’t look at things the same way that we do. He doesn’t do things the same the way that we do. And if I want to become like God, I need to have more of his thoughts. I need to try to do things more the way that he does them, instead of the way that I’m doing them. And I’ve actually been thinking about this for over a year now. And I’m still fascinated by this scripture. And I’ve thought about it a lot about how God thinks differently, and all the many ways that my thinking is not aligned with his thinking and how that has affected my experience here on this earth.
And I would dare to say that it probably has affected everyone’s experience on this earth, that they think differently. You think differently than God does. You do things differently than God does. So what if it’s not about having a perfect family? What about what most people would consider a perfect and I’m using air quotes again, for the word perfect. What if what most people would consider a perfect family is actually a hindrance to our progression? Because it doesn’t challenge us in some really significant hard ways. And there’s a reason for the term. Have you ever heard the Compare and despair? There’s a reason Isn’t that that’s a thing, compare and despair. Because that’s exactly what happens when you compare yourself to someone else, you turn around and despair that you don’t measure up. So when you’re looking around at other people and you’re measuring yourself against them, your brain will always come up with some way that you don’t measure up, I don’t care who you are, you’re going to find some way that you don’t measure up. And you might be doing that, well, I’m one notch below this person, or maybe I’m one notch above that person, whether or not you’re thinking you’re one up or went down. Both of those ways are unhealthy ways of thinking. Those are not loving places to be for you, or for anyone else.
Because you are going to look around and you’re going to see something that someone else does better than you. And you’re going to feel like you don’t measure up. Or you’re going to feel like you’re there some pride that you’re doing things better than that guy over there, or that mom have crossed the chapel. And this is part of the negativity bias that our brains have. It’s actually built into our DNA to do this. And in order for us to not do this, in order to combat it, we need to be aware that we are genetically predisposed with a negativity bias in our brains. But if you’re not aware of it, you won’t know what’s happening, you’re just going to think this is the way things are, you’re just going to think, I don’t measure up to everybody else. If you are aware of it, you still might not notice it at first, because it’s just, you just think that’s the way things are. But you can get to the place where you are aware that you’re measuring yourself against other people, and you’re coming up short. But when you do this, this is not a loving place to be, it’s not loving, for other people that you’re comparing yourself to. It’s not loving for your family, and it’s not loving to yourself. Nothing good comes from living in the space of comparing your life to someone else’s life. But be aware that your brain is lying to you all the time. It is making up stories, it is taking a handful of random facts and filling in the gaps of what it sees. And it does that with your greatest insecurities. So you will always be falling short. And it does that on purpose. It’s trying to protect you.
I mentioned this to my brother in law recently, just in a conversation that we were having. I said something like, Oh, your brains just making up stories, and it’s telling you lies. And he looked at me like I had come from another planet. I don’t think he’d ever heard that before. And he probably thought I was a little bit crazy. I’m sure that he isn’t the only one thinks that I’m a little bit crazy. But it’s actually a very well researched, and documented fact that our brains make up all sorts of stories. And then it feeds us those stories as truth. And we believe him. We believe those stories that we don’t even know if they’re true, we just take them as fact,
this is a problem. This is a real problem for us, especially when we’re comparing ourselves to others. And thinking that we’re falling short. Because when we do that we compare our family to someone else’s family. You don’t see what your family is doing what your child is doing, that’s good. And you don’t see how they are developing as a human being on this earth. Because you’re so caught up in what they’re doing that you don’t want them to be doing, or what they aren’t doing that you wish that they were doing. You’re so caught up in the comparison, that you can’t see what is actually happening and what’s good in their life. And it keeps you from loving your child just as they are. And guess what happens when you don’t love your child it just as they are. They know it. They know that you want them to be different. Even if you think you’re doing a good job of hiding it. You’re not because they know it. It it keeps you from getting to know your child and forming true and authentic connections with them.
Because your focus so much of your time and energy and your brainpower and trying to change them and in trying to change your circumstances in your life. And when you do this, you can’t form authentic connections with someone. It just can’t happen when you want to change somebody. It also keeps you from seeing ways that you actually could have an impact for good in their life. If you can’t acknowledge and accept where they are. You aren’t thinking clearly. And you aren’t thinking thoughts about them. And you aren’t able to see how can I positively affect this person that I love so much. That’s being blocked from you, when you are comparing yourself and wishing that your child was different. It also keeps you from growing as a person through your own life’s challenges. Because you’re not just a parent for the sake of this child, you as a parent actually have the potential to grow exponentially through that experience, if you can expand your view of what your family is supposed to be, and let go of the idea of what you thought it was going to be. Because it keeps you from seeing the blessings in your life from having a child that questions from having a child that doesn’t do what you expect them to do. This goes back to that story that I told you at the beginning from Richard Eyre.
What if God thought so much of you, that he sent you, a child that struggles and questions? That’s not easy? What if he thought so much of you that he trusted you with that experience in your life, but you’re so focused on what you’re think you’re lacking, that you can’t find the blessing in what you have right in front of you? So how do you begin to see like God sees? How do you begin to think, like he thinks the first step is to challenge the way that you’re thinking right now. If the way that you’re thinking about your life is not leading you, towards more love for yourself, for your family, and for all of God’s children, then your thoughts are not moving you closer to God’s thoughts. And your ways are not becoming like his ways. And when you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, this is what I want you to do. Should it get out a piece of paper and a pen, or a pencil if you like writing with pencil, but do it with a actual piece of paper and a writing utensil? Don’t type it. I know it’s easier to type. I think so too. In fact, my handwriting has gotten a lot worse in the last 10 years, because I just typed so fast now that I can’t write as fast as I type. And so my handwriting looks a little sloppy. But I want you to write because there’s a lot of value in taking a writing utensil, and a piece of paper, putting them together and putting your thoughts down on them. So I want you to get that. Ready. And then I want you to do a free write for 10 minutes, get everything in your head out on a piece of paper, don’t stop to edit it, don’t stop to judge it. And don’t correct anything. In fact, don’t even read what you wrote until you’ve been writing for at least 10 minutes, and you’ve gotten it all out. And then after you’ve done this, go back and look at the thoughts that came out of your brain. And I want you to ask yourself three questions about each one of them. First of all, is this true?
Ask yourself, is this true? Remember, I told you your brain is making up stories, filling in the gaps of facts, filling in the parts that it doesn’t know because it doesn’t like things that are unfinished. So it’s feeding you stories that are not true. A lot of things that you’re going to be writing are not a true question all of them, because most of them will be stories that your brains has made up. So question everything. That’s the first question. Is this true? How do I know that it’s true? Question The truth of it. The second question is, Is this helpful? So if you find that what you wrote is true, you can prove it in a court of law, and that everyone would agree with you that it’s true. Does it help you to think that way? Is it helpful to you in your life? Does it help when you compare yourself to someone else? What happens in your life? When you do that? Is it helpful for you to compare yourself to someone else? That’s the second question. The third question is, is it kind? Is it kind to you the way that you’re thinking, is it kind to your family? Is it kind of the other person for you to think those thoughts? If it’s not get rid of it? It’s easy for me to say, get rid of a thought. It’s not as easy to do it as it is to say it. But if your thoughts are not true helpful are kind, they are not moving you more towards God’s way of thinking. And it can be hard to do this on your own. It’s like you’re inside a jar, and you’re trying to read the label, but the labels on the outside, it’s very hard to question your own thoughts, especially when you haven’t done it before.
So if you need help with this, I want you to sign up for my January workshop, it’s called the relationship reset. Now, my coaching calendar right now, I’m full. I’m not accepting any new clients until the end of February. So if you want help with this, I want you to sign up for that workshop, because I don’t have any more room in my schedule to take one on one plants. But if you are ready to start questioning your thoughts, challenging the way that you’ve been thinking, so that you can begin to show up differently with your family and in your marriage, and in your parenting, then you need to sign up for my four week relationship, reset workshop beginning January 13. Look in the show notes. I’ll have a link for you there. There’s also going to be a coupon code because it’s on sale through December 25. So I’m looking forward to seeing you there.
But right now, question those thoughts and ask yourself those three questions. Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Those are your filter, want you to filter your thoughts through those questions. And then I want you to do this. I want you to look at your family right now as it is today. And I want you to find good there. Look at their hearts. What do you see might be different for each member. But look at each person individually, they are individually. So important. What good fruits do you see in their lives right now. Even if that spouse or that child isn’t going to church, or if they’re struggling wanting to be at church, or maybe you just have some other totally other situation going on. Look for the ways that God is still working in their life, because he is communicating with all of his children all the time in many different ways. But we are so blocked in our own minds about what that is supposed to look like about what his communication is supposed to look like that we become blind to how he is always there, how he is always working in our life. He’s always working in your life. He’s always working in your spouse’s life. He’s always working in your child’s life, and look for the ways that he is working in your family’s lives.
And believe in that believe that he’s their belief in God, believe that he’s good, and he’s still working in their life, even if it looks different than you thought it was going to be. In my experience, the story that ends up happening in reality is pretty different than the one that you thought you were going to live. But just because that path looks different than the one you thought you were going to take. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong path. It just means it’s an unexpected path. And God is still there in that path. And just as I said, at the beginning of this podcast, if you haven’t listened to my podcast from last week, about gratitude, then you need to pause this one and you need to go listen to that one. Because the next thing you need to do is give gratitude for where you are and where you’ve been. Because gratitude is central to changing our thoughts, to questioning them to finding peace and joy in our life, by changing the lenses that we see our life through.
Now take a look at the children that God sent you. Who did he send you. If you have a challenging parenting situation or two in your life, if you have challenging children, God must have thought pretty highly of you, to send you the children that he did. And your job isn’t to create a perfect family or to deliver your children back to him. Or even to fix your children. None of those things are your job. And it’s very easy to sit in a church meeting and to look around and compare yourself with others and feel like I don’t measure up. That’s human nature. It’s human nature to want to fit in and want to be successful in the ways that are important to us in our lives. And when things aren’t going the way that we hoped, the way that we prayed the way that maybe we wished upon a star and the way that we thought they would. It’s easy to think that you have failed and everyone else around you has succeeded. But the way that I’ve come to understand my role as a parent, and if I’m successful or not, is this If some day, I’m standing before the Judgment bar of God. And I can reach so grateful to him for all the experiences that I’ve been given in my life, especially for the family that I’ve been blessed with. And if I can say to him, it has been a privilege to share the planet with these children. Thank you so much for that opportunity. If I can say that I’ve done what I was supposed to do. And then if I can say that, I know that my thoughts and my ways are becoming more like his thoughts and his ways. That is what I have for you today.
I would really love for you to join my relationship reset workshop in January, give it to yourself as a gift or to someone else who is struggling to connect with someone that they love. Because this workshop, helps repair relationships, and helps families begin to come together and heal. And if there’s anything we need more of in this world right now, it’s for families to come back together and and this will be a gift that you can’t measure the benefits, because they’re too great. They’re too long lasting. So use this coupon code that I’m going to put in the show notes. It’s reset, first $70 discount and it’s good until December 25 and I will see you at that workshop on January 13.